Friday, February 2, 2001
Field trips, more for third grade
This year the third grade teachers at the Carlisle School have added two new field trips, begun a new spelling program, added new units on explorers and simple machines, expanded the poetry unit and expanded the use of systems thinking in their classrooms. The third grade teachers presented an overview of these changes to the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) at their January 23 meeting.
Special educator Jennifer Johnson described two new field trips that have been added to the curriculum. As part of their study of trees, the classes went to the Habitat Education Center in Belmont to participate in a program exploring stages of growth, bark and leaves of trees. They are also participating in the "Tea is Brewing" program as part of their study of colonial America. This takes them to historical sites in Boston where the students act out the events that led up to the Boston Tea Party and culminates in throwing tea off the Tea Party ship. The third grade classes also visit Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower II as they have in the past.
Margaret Bruell began by explaining the new spelling program called "Month by Month Phonics." Despite the name, Bruell said, it is actually a balanced program that includes not just phonics, but also "irregular sight words" and many spelling activities. There is a "word wall" which has a set of words added each month that the students are expected to learn and to spell correctly in all of their writing, not just on a Friday test. Having the words posted in the room, the students learn how they look as well as how they sound, she said. There are exercises to help the children learn when a word "looks right" and to learn dictionary skills. The program also teaches different strategies for spelling such as looking for root words and rhyming words, she added. The teachers like this spelling program better than the previous one because it covers more and emphasizes words that are used in writing.
Explorers and machines
Cindy Alhussni told the CSC that a unit on explorers has been added to follow the Native Americans unit. She explained that the children learn about the reasons for exploring, the tools that were used, mapping, and the conflicts that resulted. The unit on explorers had been taught in the fourth grade, but was moved to the third grade because the fourth grade curriculum had been overloaded, Gene Stamell said later.
The new unit on simple machines includes experiments in class to show how levers, pulleys, wheels and inclined planes can make work easier, Alhussni said. Previously, some of the third grade teachers had covered simple machines, but now the unitwill be taught to all of the third grade classes.
A Carlisle School Association (CSA) grant to purchase multiple copies of poetry books has allowed the expansion of the poetry unit in the third grade. Liz Gray explained that poetry is now read and written throughout the year. The classes also look at many forms of poetry and learn to read poems like a writer, noticing the craft used by the author, Gray said.
More systems thinking has been incorporated into the third grade curriculum, Stamell said. The classes use behavior-over-time graphs to describe the population of mammoths in the mammoth game. They also graph behavior in literature, such as the happiness of a character over time in a story. Behavior-over-time graphs are used in many areas and many situations, Stamell said.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito